Belgium to create 5,000 extra places for asylum seekers

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-8-31 10:49:27

Belgium's federal government has pledged to create 5,000 extra places for asylum seekers in migration centres "as quickly as possible", with a further 10,000 to follow by April 2016.

The measure comes as official new figures were made public on Sunday showing the number of people seeking asylum in Belgium has grown from 1,280 in April 2015 to more than 4,000 in August. The government says 60 percent of asylum requests are granted.

Government ministers agreed the increased capacity at a cabinet meeting in Brussels on Aug. 28, in response to the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.

Belgium's junior minister for immigration, Theo Francken, told reporters at a news conference: "We have decided to increase our operational capacity as quickly as possible because migration is accelerating."

Prime Minister Charles Michel said: "We want to take an approach that is on the one hand firm and rigorous, but also humane."

The 5,000 additional places will bring the total capacity for asylum seekers in Belgium to 28,000 this year, rising to 38,000 in April next year.

The government said humanitarian charity Medecins Sans Frontieres would free up 1,600 emergency places, with the Red Cross providing another 900, and other NGOs have been invited to help.

In a statement announcing the increased capacity, the Belgian federal government said: "It is our international duty to give material help to every asylum seeker. The current number of places is not enough to meet all needs. Exceptional situations like this require exceptional measures."

According to the European Union border agency Frontex, almost 340,000 migrants reached Europe in the first seven months of 2015, up from 123,500 during the same period last year.

Posted in: Europe

blog comments powered by Disqus